Posted in Book Review

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

Read Dates: September 26, 2019 – October 20, 2019
Publication date: October 1, 2019
Source: eArc via Netgalley

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Nimue is a Fey who holds within her the power of The Hidden. Because of this, she’s viewed as an outcast in her lands and is called “cursed”. But her mother, Lenore, the Arch Druid of their village, makes sure Nimue is taught to hold her own.
Until one day, the Red Paladins ride in and lay waste to Nimue’s people. Lenore gives Nimue the sword of power and tells her to find Merlin. So Nimue sets out to find Merlin per her mother’s final wish. She never expected that this would land her in the company of Arthur and Morgan who mean to help her find Merlin at whatever costs. Nor the company of many other kinds of Fey folk who are on the run from the Red Paladins.
Nimue struggles between her thirst for revenge against the Red Paladins and her decency and sanity. Will the sword of power take over her mind and turn her into a bloodthirsty, power-hungry killer? Will she be able to give the sword to Merlin when she finds him? Or will she use the sword’s history to proclaim herself Queen since whoever wields the sword is the “one true king”?
Regardless of what she decides, kings and interested parties everywhere will do what they can to claim the sword for themselves, even if that means allying with unlikely groups of murderers… or worse.

First of all, I’m super excited that this book is being adapted into a Netflix show. I can’t wait to see all of this come to life on screen!
Secondly… there are a lottttt of characters in this book. So I feel like maybe we should start there. Let’s just give you a brief rundown of who’s involved with this story:

  • Nimue – Main character. Has a connection with the “hidden”. Is labeled as a “cursed” child by the people of her village.
  • Lenore – Nimue’s mother. Arch Druid of Dewdenn
  • Arthur – Sword for hire who takes an interest in Nimue and her cause
  • Morgan – Arthur’s half-sister. Pledges herself to Nimue and her cause
  • Squirrel – 8-year-old little boy from Nimue’s village. He and Nimue are close friends
  • Uther Pendragon – 26-year-old King of England
  • Merlin – Wizard. Advisor of King Uther
  • Lady Lunette – King Uther’s mother, the Queen Regent
  • Gawain – A friend of Nimue’s from Dewdenn. He has since disappeared. They call him “The Green Knight”
  • Rugen – The Leper King
  • Father Carden – Head priest leading the Red Paladins
  • Weeping Monk – Father Carden’s favorite follower
  • Sister Iris – A pupil of Father Carden. She only wants to do his bidding, earn his respect, and be his favorite
  • Brother Salt – Member of the Red Paladins who is particularly good at “carving” information out of people
  • Abbot Wicklow – a mysterious man who is observing the work of the Red Paladins
  • Red Spear – Viking Warlord who is loyal to the Ice King
  • Lord Cumber – The Ice King (self-proclaimed)
  • Hilja – The Ice Queen
  • Pope Abel – Leader of the Trinity
  • Kaze – mysterious purple-robed woman. Gawain’s trusted companion
  • Lady Cacher – of House Chastellain. A friend of Merlin’s

It seems a bit overwhelming, I know, but these characters are introduced in such a way so that you won’t ever be confused. They only come into the story when it is their time. Some are mentioned before they actually play a part but, I’m telling you, the author made this so easy to follow.

Ya know what I found refreshing about this book? There’s a female heroine but she isn’t glorified. She makes mistakes. We’re shown her thought process multiple times where she’s wondering if she’s doing the right thing or she’s trying to figure out if she made the right decision. What’s even more, she makes mistakes! She literally makes choices in the story that lead to bad things happening. But she takes everything as it comes. She owns up to everything. SHE PUTS HER PEOPLE BEFORE HERSELF. Even though those same people ridiculed her at first and saw her as different and weird… she still chose to put them first and do what was best for all and not just one. That was so damn refreshing.

The adventure in this book is endless. The story follows Nimue, Father Carden, and occasionally the Weeping Monk or Arthur. This story does not lack adventure at any point. The action is present from the very start until the very end of the book. I was never bored while reading this story.

I really liked how these classic characters were shown in a different light. Instead of Merlin the wizard who outsmarts everyone and who can get himself out of any situation, he was instead ensnared multiple times. Yes, he still had the witty tongue to get himself out of said situations but sometimes in the story, he just plain got lucky.
Arthur is just as human as the rest of them. Making his own mistakes and bad choices. Running from conflict. But eventually, finding his flaws and correcting himself to be worthy of the knighthood he’s always dreamed of.
Lancelot even makes his appearance in this book! But I won’t go into detail about his character as that would be a MAJOR spoiler.

I feel like this story is a better representation of how things would actually be if the Sword of Power was out there and in the hands of one person. Yes, the Sword of Power chooses someone and that person is said to be the rightful king, but let’s be honest here, there will always be evils who wish the power for themselves and will do ruthless things to get to it. This story embodies that. It shows the selfish desires of man, even the ones who may have meant well in the beginning. It shows the price of wielding such power and how that power can go to your head if you let it. It reminded me a lot of Bilbo Baggins and The One Ring to Rule Them All.

I honestly can’t wait to see all of these characters come to life. I can’t wait to see if the show will be just as relentless as the book was. Torture, mass slaughters, poisonings… It got pretty brutal at times. But, GOODNESS this book was so good. It kept me on the edge of my seat. It kept me wondering what might happen next. Then there were all the twists. Those were so much fun. At one point I was whooping and fist pumping into the air because I was so excited about the twist that came my way.

I did see that this book didn’t do so well where ratings were concerned on Goodreads… But I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who can handle a middle grade book that has about 100 more pages than it really needs. But again, I was never bored. The adventure was so abundant that I didn’t mind the extra pages.
You do have the option to just wait for the show to come out next year though. But I definitely urge people to always read the book first. 🙂

Shout out to Frank Miller for the amazing illustrations throughout this book! I rather enjoyed those as well!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Read Dates: May 13, 2019 – May 17, 2019
Publication date: January 15, 2019
Source: Owned copy

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Min is a thirteen year old girl who has missed her brother fiercely since he left to join The Thousand Worlds Space Forces. She can’t wait until she’s old enough to join the forces herself and serve alongside her brother. They’ve always talked of exploring all the worlds together.
When an officer comes to her home asking questions about her brother’s disappearance and accuses him of deserting, Min uses her fox magic shape shifting abilities to disguise herself as her cousin and runs off to find a way to bring back her brother and prove his innocence.
Min faces many challenges along the way and endures many set backs but she is determined. With the help of some unlikely friends and her fox magic charm, Min will go to great lengths to find her brother and find the legendary Dragon Pearl which can bring peace and prosperity to her home world of Jinju.

Buddy read with the Dragons & Tea Book Club!

If nothing else, this book was absolutely magical.

It took me a bit to get into it but I soon learned that the journey I was taken on was necessary to set up a story and build a few key characters.

Min is thirteen and at times it’s a little hard to accept the things she’s doing and getting away with as a thirteen-year-old. Mind you, I don’t typically read middle grade books so I had to keep reminding myself where I was. Once I was able to accept and keep in mind that this was a middle grade book, THIS BOOK WAS EVERYTHING.

Family is a huge part of this story. From the beginning, I enjoyed reading about Min, her strict mother, her pesky cousins, and her crazy aunties. I loved how they were all piled into a house together and loved the banter that went back and forth between them. I LOVE when a book can deliver a good family feel.

Once Min decides she’s running off to find her brother, the adventure begins. Min does some crazy things for a thirteen-year-old. She meets some interesting characters along the way and you’re never quite sure who you can trust.

Once she infiltrates the Space Forces, she meets some super fun characters. We’re introduced to other supernaturals like her. Although she is posing as someone who has no supernatural powers, the friends she makes do not hold back their own. She befriends a dragon who has control over weather patterns and the elements and a goblin who wields strength and the ability to be invisible. The magic parts of this book were SO MUCH fun. Hell, all the characters we met in this book were cool. A pilot, some mercenaries, an estranged aunt… and ghosts… oOOOooOOOooOO.

I was always wondering what Min was going to do next or how she was going to get herself out of certain situations. More than once, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her to be discovered.This book had me on edge quite a few times! This book got me pretty emotional a couple of times too. I did not see that end coming but I am so happy with where it left me.

This was just such a fun adventure and I highly recommend it to everyone! Even if you’re not a middle grade reader. I’m not a middle grade reader and I LOVED this story.

**This was my first ever buddy read and I am so happy to be a part of the Dragons & Tea book club. The community has been absolutely amazing and I have so enjoyed sharing the reading experience with this wonderful group of people. I’ll definitely be doing more buddy reads in the future. :)**

Keri